Every 4th February, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate World Cancer Day, to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
According to Hon. Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu the Minister of State for Health (Primary Health Care), Nearly every family in the world has been affected by cancer, which is now responsible for one in every six deaths globally.
She adds that Worldwide, approximately, 9.6 million people die each year from cancer. That is more than HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined. In 2018, Kampala Cancer Registry registered 32,617 new cancer cases, and 21,829 deaths.
“Unfortunately, many of the cancer patients come to Uganda Cancer Institute with advanced disease when nothing much can be done to cure it. Sensitization of the public is therefore important so that in addition to prevention measures, cancer is diagnosed early. This year, World Cancer Day will be held under the theme ‘I AM and I WILL’ to resonate, inspire change and mobilize action against Cancer both nationally and globally.” She revealed.
Minister Kaducu also noted that this is an empowering
call-to-action urging for personal commitment and represents the power of
individual action taken now to impact the present and future cancer prevention
efforts citing that whoever you are, you have the power to reduce the impact of
cancer for yourself, the people you love and for the world. It’s time to make a
Cancer can be prevented by adopting simple lifestyle changes such as;
• Stop consumption of tobacco
• Limit harmful use of alcohol
• Eat healthy, for example foods rich in fruits and vegetables – these foods are freely available in our farms and gardens
• Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes per day such as running,jogging, dancing etc
• Vaccinate yourselves and your children against Hepatitis B and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) to prevent cancer of the liver and cervix respectively.
According to current evidence, between 30% and 50% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors such as tobacco use, harmful consumption of alcohol, physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and obesity.
More than one third of cancer cases can be prevented. Another third can be cured if detected early and treated properly.
The Ministry of Health has prioritized cancer control and is
committed to ensuring that the communities are educated on how to prevent
cancer, access cancer screening and treatment services including palliative
care everywhere in Uganda. This commitment is evidenced by;
• Providing an enabling legal framework for cancer control through The
Uganda Cancer Institute Act of 2016
• Establishment of the Center of Excellence for cancer treatment in East and Central Africa at the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) with support from African Development Bank. The need for referrals abroad for cancer treatment has been mitigated
• Increased funding for the Uganda Cancer Institute to UGX 8.4 billion in 2018/19 budget
• Increased availability and accessibility of cancer treatment medicines.
Uganda Cancer Institute medicines supply is now at almost 100%.
• Providing vaccination against cancer of the cervix at each sub county and immunization post in Uganda. Current HPV vaccination is at 70%. Girls
aged 10 years are protected from getting cancer of the cervix in future
• Enacting the tobacco control act; Tobacco is known to cause almost 60% of all cancers. The Government is currently in the process of enacting the alcohol control law
• Investment in cancer diagnostic and treatment services. Uganda Cancer Institute has a state of the art laboratory and imaging equipment for cancer diagnosis
• In addition, with support from the Indian Government, we have acquired a second radiotherapy machine. Government of Uganda has also
procured the third radiotherapy machine which will be shipped into the country by March 2019. Construction of the bunkers to house the machines has been completed. This means all patients who need radiotherapy services will receive it in a timely manner
• UCI is now a centre of excellence in Oncology in the whole of the East African Region and Uganda is proud to host the East African Oncology Institute that trains cancer treatment specialists
• Increasing the human resources for cancer treatment. In addition to the best doctors present at the Uganda Cancer Institute, the Ministry of Health with support from African Development Bank is training an additional 208 cancer treatment and care specialists and researchers.
Uganda Cancer Institute has also trained 500 health workers from district Local Governments and regional referral hospitals on how to educate communities about cancer and provide cancer screening services in the
• This financial year, 169 additional staff from Regional Referral Hospitals will be trained further in cancer screening and treatment.
• Government is in the process of establishing Regional Cancer Centers in Gulu, Arua, Mbarara, Mbale. Mbarara Regional Cancer Center is already running and caring for over 20,000 cancer patients. Gulu Regional Cancer
Center will open doors to people of the Acholi region in 2019/2020.
• Plans are underway to extend cancer awareness and screening services at every Health Center III in the country.
The Government of Uganda recognizes and appreciates the role and contribution of Uganda Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society and other partners in the fight against cancer in Uganda. You have supported us in raising cancer awareness, providing patient support and accommodation, counselling services and palliative care. On behalf of Ministry of Health, we immensely appreciate your effort. I thank the development partners especially the International Atomic Energy Agency, Fred Hutch Research Center and African Development Bank for their support towards cancer control in the country.
I thank my staff here at the Ministry of Health, the management and staff of Uganda Cancer Institute for the passion and great effort they put in to help cancer patients. And I thank the Uganda Cancer Society for mobilizing the civil society in the fight against cancer.
I call upon all individuals, communities, civil society and development partners to support Government to strengthen efforts that stimulate powerful cancer advocacy, action and accountability at every level.
I finally thank the members of the press for helping us reach the population with cancer prevention and control messages and urge them to do more so that cancer stops killing our people prematurely.
This year’s activities will include the Zumba dance, free cancer screening and care on Sunday 3rd February 2019 and Monday 4th February 2019 at KCCA grounds, Lugogo. I urge you all to join us at the venue and participate in these activities that will enable us fight Cancer.
I wish the public peaceful World Cancer Day commemoration activities